It's the third and final installment of the interview I had with the successful SA knit and crochet designer Bren Grobler (check out her Ravelry designs). Before your read on you need to catch up on the previous two installments here (Designer Bren Grobler's view on modern handmade garments) and here (Designer Bren Grobler's view on pattern copyright infringement) otherwise you will not know what is going on!
Now that you know that I tried my hand at the first real grownup crochet garment using Bren's pattern in the Your Family Magazine for February 2018 in the luxurious Nurturing Fibres Eco-Fusion hear what advice she has for you as a Mompreneur that crochet for extra income.
Set the scene: the waiter places our decadent and gooey dark chocolate baked dessert with thick whipped cream and a splash of strong hot coffee over it before us - to share. I try to not get dessert on my brand new crochet garment yet failing dismally.
Me: In today’s economic climate where people’s salaries do not keep up with inflation and cheaper imports from other countries are rife, do you believe there is a future for the typical Mompreneur / Solopreneur who is crocheting for extra income? Do you have any tips for them?
Bren: There will always be a market for the home crafter. BUT, the difference comes in the yarns they choose to work with. I’ve been to plenty market where crochet/knitted items are for sale in garish colours and cheap acrylic. And people don’t buy it. Rather choose good natural fibres, and make sure your work is perfect. That includes stitch definition to design. And photos!!! I’ve seen so many posts on social media of people selling goods. The article itself is lovely, but the photography is so appalling that their item goes unnoticed. Use a whiteboard and take a photo in good natural light. Make sure your presentation of your items are on point.
Me: How can an ambitious beginner pattern designer get recognised and how can they build on that to also – someday – become a Brand Ambassador and Head Designer of a popular yarn brand?
Bren: Get your patterns published on Ravelry, but make sure that your patterns are perfect. Layout, photos, zero errors. Being a designer is a LOT of hard work. Weeks and weeks of working on a pattern happens before something gets released. It isn’t something you do in a week or two. Be humble. Don’t think you’re the hottest item in town when a brand approaches you for a pattern. It is going to take a lot more than just one pattern before you’re established and if you act like a prima donna after only one release, no-one will want to work with you again. And remember, the SA yarn industry is actually super small. Most of us established designers has been at it for many years. If you do have ambitions to become a Brand Ambassador or Head Designer, be brand loyal. Create beautiful original items in your preferred brand. This includes the full aesthetic from design straight through to publishing. And work hard! Our industry is made up of lots and lots of hours behind the scenes. If you can’t see yourself putting in 18 hour days during deadlines, then this is probably not for you. But above all, have fun! Despite all the hard work, we as designers, get exposed to the most beautiful yarns the industry has to offer. And we’re often the ones that get to try new yarns and colours long before it is on the market. Despite all the hard work, it is really rewarding.
Me: How should the ultimate craft bag look? Can you share some pictures of yours?
Bren: I have lots of craft bags, and each project goes into a craft bag with everything it needs. My ultimate craft bag has lots of little pockets for all my notions, notebooks, pencils and necessary thingymajigs. I was super lucky to come across a magnificent one the other day in Kalk Bay. It is sturdy, has lots of pockets and is a perfect size. I need something that lives next to my work area and has space for everything I might need. This bag ticks all the boxes. When I travel, I always use my bespoke Nurturing Fibres craft bag. It advertises our brand to perfection, yet it is classy and easy to carry around. (photo attached)
Bren and I leave the seaside coffee shop. I start by saying something like 'we should definitely do this again' and Bren replies with something like 'don't call me, I'll call you'. The camera zooms in on my face while I have a perplexed look on my face trying to figure out if it was wrong of me to expect her to pay the bill...
A great big thanks to Bren for being such a sport and allowing me artistic freedom with this interview! Just goes to show how friendly and accommodating the handcrafting industry is.